In the summer of 2013 some friends of mine took me to a vaping shop in west LA, and I was surprised to see that it looked like the interior of an Apple store. While a hip, twenty-something with gauges walked us through all the flavors, like he was selling the new IOS, I felt deeply unsettled. In our feverish push to make the modern world feel like the future we were promised in the scifi books of our youth, we had somehow made drug culture into a sleek corporate experience.
That was how my idea formed for a world where drugs and technology and consumer culture and self-improvement all merge into one homogeneous experience where life is boiled down to experiences bought in a store.
My process of writing is mostly stretching out my fingers for a good 15 minutes, so once I start going they can keep up with my train of thought. I write in large uninterrupted blocks and then go back and tinker.
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There is no secret method to finding the muse or battling El Duende, there is just experience and translation. Find an experience that captures your mind, translate it into a voice that you make with your own lungs (or fingers) and then regurgitate. When I have to write, I have to write. It’s like taking a dump in a lot of ways.
The unglamorous part of writing is tinkering, rewriting, fixing. Usually it involves removing everything you love from a story and replacing it with sentences that “make sense” and conform to “grammar,” but in the end, it’s like building a dyke around your house. It’s arduous and dull, but if you do it right, there’s nothing more satisfying than a dry house in the middle of a flood plain.
I should mention that finding inspiration is a lot easier in theory than it is in practice. It takes a lot of work to find things that will swallow you whole. I would say that almost every story I have ever written has emerged from an event that I desperately did not want to attend: an uncomfortable favor for a friend, an outing I attended out of obligation, a funeral for a stranger, an errand I hoped to avoid. It’s usually in places we don’t want to be that we find the most fascinating parts of the world and ourselves. Over the years, I have spent no time at all honing my writing abilities, but I have diligently improved my saying-yes-to-things-that-sound-horrible abilities.
I would like to leave you with some parting words of advice.
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If left unexamined, life can be very comfortable. But if you want to make something beautiful, make a fist with both hands and have a boxing match between your right and left half.
–T. Lucas Earle